Can Drinking Beer Make You Lose Muscle?

The nutrients you put in your body have a direct impact on your body's look and performance. Making your body as fit as it can be doesn't mean swearing off all of your favorites -- the occasional beer may actually provide a little health benefit, as long as your consumption doesn't get out of hand. Beer generally doesn't cause muscle loss, but because it's very low in protein, it theoretically could.

Beer shouldn't be your sole source of nutrition. (Image: Kane Skennar/DigitalVision/Getty Images)

Protein Versus Beer

Muscle tissue requires regular stress to prevent wasting -- in other words, use it or lose it. Once that stress occurs, the protein you get from food plays a major role in tissue repair and growth. A lack of protein can cause muscle wasting just as quickly as a lack of movement. Beer is made from grains, so it does contain protein, just not very much -- usually about a gram or so per bottle or can. For most people, beer is not a sole nutrition source, so the lack of protein isn't a problem. But when you start missing out on food because you're drinking beer instead, problems can arise quickly, and muscle loss will be the least of your problems.

Beer Diet

You should get between 10 and 35 percent of your calories from protein -- if you eat about 2,000 calories per day, that works out to about 50 to 175 gtams. You would have to drink about 50 to 175 bottles of beer to meet your protein needs from beer alone. Alcohol poisoning notwithstanding, that means consuming 7,500 to 26,250 calories per day, which works out to a daily weight gain of about 1.5 to 7 pounds. You also would be missing out on a host of vitamins and minerals, not getting enough fiber or fat and destroying your liver. So despite the rumors about the "beer diet," beer is not a good source of nutrition.

Moderation

Most beer drinkers maintain a moderate intake -- one per day for women and two per day for men. At this level of consumption, beer won't contribute to muscle loss as long as the rest of your diet is balanced. According to the American Dietetic Association, a moderate beer intake may contribute to heart health, strong bones and kidney health. Beer also contains B vitamins and a small amount of fiber that may contribute to overall health, but it should not be considered a source of hydration. Unlike plain water, beer actually decreases hydration levels by flushing fluids from your body.

Excessive Intake

Like anything in life, moderation is key. If you are drinking enough beer that it's cutting into your protein intake, there are many more reasons to slow down besides muscle loss. Binge drinking can cause accidental injury to yourself and others, alcohol poisoning, violence and miscarriage. Long-term heavy beer drinking raises your risk of stroke, heart disease, dementia, emotional disorders, social problems, liver disease, digestion problems and certain types of cancer.

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